NSW farmers were recently warned against the practice of operating vehicles without a driver while feeding stock, following an incident in which a farm worker sustained crush injuries while hand-feeding stock from the back of a moving truck which had no driver controlling the vehicle.
The injured farmer was crushed when he was caught between the truck door and the truck chassis when the vehicle struck a tree.
SafeWork NSW executive director, Tony Williams, said there are a number of simple precautions farm workers can undertake to avoid injury while feeding from vehicles.
“We are urging farmers and farm managers to develop a safe work procedure for feeding stock from vehicles – and one of the best things they can implement today is a “no moving vehicle operated without a driver” policy,” Williams said.
“No driver should be getting in and out of a moving vehicle -– that is a recipe for tragedy.
“It should also be best practice to ensure a driver remains at the controls of the vehicle at all times and drivers should not exit the cabin while the vehicle is moving.
“And if a worker or workers need to access the tray area of the vehicle it is critical that the worker and driver can communicate readily and easily.”
Drivers should only travel at a speed which minimises the risks to workers, and Williams also said the terrain, the type of vehicle being used, the tasks being undertaken as well as weather conditions all need to be considered when deciding if a person should be working on the tray or not.
He said the September incident near Tamworth saw a worker shoveling fodder off the back of a truck while the vehicle was engaged in low gear, travelling at a pace of less than walking speed.
“This worker observed the vehicle heading towards a tree and made the decision to jump into the cabin of the truck to try to regain control of the vehicle,” he said.
“In doing so, the driver’s door was forced shut onto the worker by a tree pinning him between the driver’s door and door frame chassis.
“These incidents can happen so quickly and the results are devastating. This could so easily have been a fatality.”